Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Time to go home . . . ?

I wonder if you enjoy online seminars?
Do you value, as I do, this incredible sense of a worldwide community . . . a sense formed in the knowledge that, although it may be dawn in Los Angeles, mid-day in London, and evening in Melbourne, people throughout the world are united at a meeting-point outside time and space.  All of us linked in discussion in a way that was never before thought possible.

Whilst participating the other day, I was brought down to earth by the speaker's comment.  It was wonderful, she said, that we could gather in this way, wonderful that our minds could communicate in space, but, she added, she always felt a little flat afterwards.

Minds might have been united through the internet, but, when her computer was switched off, there was no-one there to share a cup of tea.  Physically, she was on her own.

It was true.  Do we over-value these powerful links?  After all, no matter how many friends you have on Facebook, it's no comfort if you feel in need of a hug.

It may seem an unlikely connection, but I'm reminded of the parable of the Prodigal Son.  Do you remember?
It's the story of the younger son who left home, lured by the attractions of the world.  Years later, sadder but wiser, he returned to his waiting family.  Here he received what might be considered an undeservedly warm welcome, complete with a fatted calf.

Surely there has never been a generation which has travelled more than we have?  We are constantly on the move.  Families no longer comprise three or more generations living in close proximity, they are widely scattered.  Many people live highly mobile and, in consequence, often solitary lives.  But what when we switch off the computer, the iPad or the smartphone  . . . what when we want to share a cup of tea?

Like the Prodigal Son, have we had enough . . . has the time come to go home?

To go home, wise in the knowledge of what we've encountered, and recognising just why we need, and value, what it was that we left behind.

This is the belief of a large group of people in Oregon, as they put it, "We Need Each Other".  They speak of 'a maturing humanity where values move from transaction to trust, from consumption to contribution, from scarcity to abundance . . . and from isolation to community'.
Go to their website and see for yourself.

Nor is the United States alone in fostering this concept.  In Mali, one of the poorest nations on earth, they have what is known as a Gift Economy:

' . . .  a culture of constantly giving to their neighbour, with no immediate expectation of return.  Their cultural belief is that by giving, you will also be given to and be taken care of.  Hoarding is frowned upon, so people avoid it. Medical care, education, Social Security and other things that many Westerners think are supposed to be provided by the government, are handled on a personal basis and somehow, everybody gets what they need.'

Is this African country wiser than we are?  Watch this link and judge for yourself.

We've had fun since leaving home.  Disowning the natural world that reared us, we've been enticed by the concept of competition, seduced by the glamour of individual success, bedazzled by the pursuit of wealth . . . although proof is still lacking that you can actually buy happiness.

But all this has been typical of adolescent self-indulgence.
Isn't it time we grew up . . .  time that we followed in the steps not only of the Prodigal Son, but also of the people of Oregon and Mali?

It's time to go home.
Why?   Not because we want the welcome and the fatted calf, it's far simpler than that . . . it's because we need each other.